summer had come at last, and the light of the sun
bleached the earth and sky. Grain grew in the
fields, and vegetable vines spread their leaves
like lizards soaking up the heat.
Goldhelm was now at the height of his power, having
rebuilt his realm to his liking. There was peace,
and there was order. If there was not much
laughter, it was a deficiency seldom discussed or
debated. The crops were growing lushly, and
although the people ate Spartan meals at the king's
insistence, the promise of plenty to come kept all
hopeful and obedient.
The men and
women were all working long shifts in the fields
now, hoeing weeds in the blinding sun, and building
ditches and canals in great geometrical designs to
bring water to the thirsty crops.
devotion to justice had made the land a place where
crime was scarcely known, and even angry words came
seldom. Having judged and punished all the thieves,
scoundrels, and thugs, Goldhelm turned his
attention to those who were merely disorderly or
discontent, or who seemed to lack the shroud of
seriousness and responsibility that clothed the
land and its people these days.
One man was
banished for having boasted of wealth he did not
possess. Goldhelm rebuked him for his dishonesty,
saying "Where there are lies, no one can trust
another, and evil plots hatch out."
put in prison for questioning the king's laws.
"Have you no decency? Where the law is not
sacred, nothing is safe."
At noon on
the longest day of the year, a woman was brought to
the king, heavy with child. "What is this?" he
is a fornicator," replied the guard. She is
about to give birth to a child, yet she has not
married according to the laws of home and family
that your majesty has so justly
true?" asked the king.
pulled back her long, raven hair and fixed the king
with a piercing gaze.
majesty," she said, "I require no king's
permission to love a man, and I require no king's
permission to bear a child. My life is my own to
eyed her angrily. "Look around you," he said.
"See all these people hard at work in the fields,
growing the grain we need to feed us through the
winter. And you come before me, speaking in your
pride only of yourself - to take your pleasure as
you choose, to bring another hungry child into this
land for others to feed. How dare you waste your
days and nights in lustful
feed my own child. I ask no one to give me anything
I have not earned. As for lust, how do you know
what is in my heart?"
grew angry. "Silence!" he shouted. "The matter
is simple. You are proven to have disobeyed the
marriage laws. You and your kind threaten to bring
chaos down upon this land of ours. It cannot be
permitted. Be gone, leave this land and do not
return. Guard, take her away."
spat on the ground. "You cannot rule forever. You
are powerful now, but one day you too will be at
the mercy of another's power. You will regret your
harsh judgments then."
was taken away and walked through the forest until
long after dark, when an old man and woman took
pity on her and welcomed her into their small
cottage. There she gave birth to a baby boy, with
hair of jet and piercing, laughing eyes. His mother
saw in him something she had not seen in Goldhelm's
kingdom for a long, long time: simple joy, the joy
of being alive, breathing air, being free and
unfettered in a wide, wonderful world. She named
him Hollyhorn, sharp and prickly and wild to defy
the rigid king and his sense of order.
One day, she
knew, there would be a change in the world, and a
welcome cool wind would sweep away the relentless
fierce light of summer.